Formed in 2011, father/daughter folk duo Hither and Yon hail from the Canberra region. Performing their own crowd pleasing compositions about lost love, current tragedies and the antics of the local fauna, they use vocal harmonies and accompany themselves on guitar.
They also sing traditional Irish, Scottish and Australian folk songs ranging from rollicking Aussie shearer’s songs to traditional celtic ballads.
Occasionally performing with family member Lyndal, they weave musical stories with emotion and artistry. Tom has been re-incarnated from a formerly well-known, but now sadly defunct, Canberra bush band, while daughter Heather burst out of local music programs, stage musicals, choirs and choruses.
They’ve performed locally and as far afield as the Innerleithen Music Festival in Scotland. With guitars in hand and voices at the ready will have you singing along to old favourites and humming their original tunes long after the show is over.
Background to band members
Tom Jordan – founder – Tom has been singing and playing guitar since his teens but only fell into song writing when he turned 60 (after many years, it must be said, of also writing poetry). Tom’s extensive Australian repertoire grew during a decade as dance caller and lead singer for Canberra bush band, the Ettamogah Philharmonic Orchestra, in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The turning point to songwriting came at the Bulli Folk Festival in 2011 when tom did a song writing workshop with John Broomhall. Out of this came his first song, Old Murramarr, about the Milky Way.
Since then Tom has practised songwriting his craft by setting existing poems (e.g. by Banjo Paterson) to music, putting his own words to others’ tunes (e.g. Circle Tumburumba, about the number Pi) and by writing new lyrics and music (e.g. Old Murramarr, Rock of the North and many others). Tom’s songs are deeply personal, reflecting his childhood in Goulburn (Days of Gold), stories of growing up (The Rock of the South) and more recent experiences (The Man Bench). They can also be quirky and upbeat, reflecting on local events (Light Rail), encounters with local fauna (Wombat Hymn of the Republic) and general life events (The Curry Song). Tom also reflects his Celtic and Australia heritage through traditional songs from both cultures.
In his spare time Tom now sings barbershop bass with The Canberra Chordsmen and his own quartet The Corduroys. He also plays rhythm for the Canberra Scottish Fiddlers. In a former life he performed minor lead roles for several Queanbeyan Players performances, including Camelot, Li’l Abner and the Mikado.
Lyndal Thorburn – member – Lyndal (Tom’s wife) learned piano from an early age and then moved in to classical singing as a soprano. On moving to Canberra in 1979 she took to the local theatre stage with gusto, performing with both Canberra Philharmonic and the Queanbeyan Players as chorus member and dancer in a diverse range of shows (e.g. Kiss Me Kate, Brigadoon, Oklahoma) and later as makeup artist.
Lyndal creates many of the magical harmonies for which Hither and Yon is known and also managed production of each of their 3 CDs. She also provides much of the rhythmic support for the duo, through percussion and ukulele. Ever one for a challenge, Lyndal took up violin in 2013 and is now playing fiddle in local Irish and Old Timey sessions, as well as with Canberra Scottish Fiddlers.
Lyndal also sings barbershop tenor, with the award winning Brindabella Chorus, and has her own fledgling quartet, Shaken Not Stirred. She spent several years as section leader for the bass section of the chorus, and coordinates the national Southern Cross Regional Arrangers Program. As an arranger, she arranges modern and older songs for barbershop and a cappella singing, selling these online through SMP Press.
Heather Jordan – former member, founder – Heather (Tom and Lyndal’s daughter) co-founded Hither and Yon and wrote many of the songs on their first two albums. Heather is a guitar player whose love of music was kindled at school, during which time she was selected through national auditions for two seasons of Gondwana Voices, and learned cello. She took up the guitar towards the end of her school years (really, it’s a cello sideways!).
Heather has a wonderfully deep voice and after leaving school sang women’s bass with Brindabella Chorus. Her song writing started at about the same time as Tom’s, inspired by his success with John Broomhall. Her songs are also largely based on personal experiences, including sad late nights (No More Vodka and Tonic Phone calls), bad dates (the Bad Date Song) and fabulous holidays (Nor’n Iron).
Sadly, Heather is not singing with Hither and Yon at the moment, but can be heard on the band’s CDs Come Hither and Nor’n Iron
Track list Man Bench:
- The Man Bench
- The Shearing at Cuppacumbalong
- Billy of Tea
- Circle Tumbarumba (The Pi Song)
- Days of Gold
- Reedy River
- Possum in the Dunny
- Leave it in the Ground
- Wreck of the Dandenong
- The Man
- The Storm Bruins (Bears of the King’s Highway)
- The Play
- We are a River
- Light Rail
- Somewhere Down the Line
CD review by Tony Smith
TN158 – Oct 23
Hither and Yon Music are Tom Jordan (vocals and guitar) and Lyndal Thorburn (vocals, violin and banjolele).
This album of 16 tracks comprises mostly songs written during the 2013 to 2018 years.
Although the comment about ‘Ebola’ is ‘what can we say?, who knows what inspires Tom, sometimes’, it is pretty clear that Canberra characters and legends, and scenes from the drive to the far south coast, provide sources for much of Tom Jordan’s writing.
‘The Man Bench’, a resting place for bored husbands whose wives are shopping, is at Mogo.
‘The Storm Bruins’ are the teddy bears who watch night and day at Pooh Corner on the drive down Clyde Mountain to Batemans Bay.
‘Possum in the Dunny’ relates to a story told by musician Dave O’Neill and ‘Light Rail’ tells of the tramway recently built along Northbourne Avenue.
Also close by, ‘The Shearing at Cuppacumbalong’ is an anonymous poem about Queanbeyan shearers.
Tom set this to music and this is one of the most melodious tracks here.
‘Billy of Tea’ is a traditional song which seems to have developed an Australian version from a poem by Walter Scott.
‘The Wreck of the Dandenong’ also has a regional connection.
The words about the loss of the ship off Jervis Bay in 1876 were collected by John Meredith from Mary Byrnes in Queanbeyan in 1954.
Not much further away, ‘Days of Gold’ tells of coming of age in Goulburn – or in similar towns.
‘Circle Tumbarumba (Pi Song)’ prompts the question whether only a mathematician could love this one.
‘The Man’ is the unlikely story of a brave ‘chicken’ faced with danger.
‘Reedy River’ has words by Henry Lawson and is of course, an Australian classic.
‘The Play’ tells of a 1950s romance and courtship in the style of C.J. Dennis.
‘Leave It in the Ground’ is a ‘fable’ about the impact of mining on families.
The title emphasises the damage mining can do.
‘We Are a River’ reminds us that while individuals can seem powerless, together they can achieve much.
‘Somewhere Down the Line’ is a Pat Drummond song about meeting again later.
Generally, Tom and Lyndal keep the arrangements uncomplicated.
Many tunes are reminiscent of well known patterns such as the calypso feel in ‘Ebola’.
The chords are spread nicely into arpeggios and the musicians know the limitations of their voices and keep within these.
Their stories are compelling.
The most outstanding characteristic of this album is that Hither and Yon elevate the everyday to the status of events and characters deserving of memorialisation.
This obviously requires the ability to focus on matters close at hand and to avoid dismissing quirky tales as mere trivia.
The song about the Kings Highway teddy bears is typical.
Thousands of carloads of Canberrans and New South Wales motorists pass their cave every week.
Until now it seems, no-one has been inspired to write a song about the experience.
What are they doing there?
Tom says the song has the answer.
Perhaps it does.